How do I use darktable on 2 machines with different OSes?


Hello all! I’m trying to make the move from Lightroom to darktable.

2012 Mac mini with NAS to store RAW, JPEG, and browse photos
Higher spec Windows PC for editing RAW files

What is the recommended sequence of steps to grab a few pictures at a time from the Mac (maybe on a flash drive), edit them on the Windows PC, then synchronize the edits back to the Mac? Due to restrictions beyond my control, services such as Dropbox and Google Drive are not an option in my case.

My eventual goal is to move to Linux full time, but for now I must rely on the Windows PC for editing.


(Mica) #2

Is the Mac mini the NAS, or do you have a separate NAS device? If the latter, then just share the photos from the NAS to the Windows & Macs machines. You can use darktable’s sync local feature so you don’t have to mount the NAS drive every time (or if it is a laptop). I guess you could also enable samba on the Mac as well and access the share from windows.

Either way, make sure you tell darktable to write XMP sidecar files (and to look for new XMPs on start up) and you should be OK.


The NAS is separate but on the same network as the Mac. However, the Windows PC is physically in a different location on a different network from which the NAS is not accessible.

Let’s say I import a folder of images into darktable on the Mac. Then I copy the same folder onto a flash drive and import it into darktableon the Windows PC. What should I do next to import the edits into darktable on the Mac?

(Mica) #4

If you need a sneakernet, I’d suggest you check out git annex. I use it to keep my raw files and their xmp sidecars in sync.

If you take a look at the darktable CLI reference, you can specify the location of the databases and cache files. I’d put a start up script that defines all these variables for each machine. You can then have a fully portable library.


Thanks for the tip about git annex. Looks like a great tool. It seems the Windows PC is locked down so that USB storage devices cannot be accessed so I might be out of options.

(Mica) #6

If you can boot an alternative OS on the hardware, you can use a Linux live USB with darktable installed.


Hi @naturepassport & welcome!

Have you checked the BIOS settings?

Have fun!
Claes in Lund, Sweden


I suspect you can boot it. If you have UEFI, you need to use secure boot, and choose the right EFI-file in the UEFI.


I was able to follow theinstructions from here and boot into Xubuntu 18.04.

I installed darktable and it seems to run quite smoothly.

Thank you all for the advice.

(Mica) #10

Excellent! Happy photo editing.


I will not be stable. You need to use an ext file system (i.e. a regular installation). Have a look at your UEFI. There has to be a way for working with secure boot.